Cycling through options

Looking at one of my goals from yesterday, I decided I needed to really investigate one or the other activity for fitness right away and decide just how deep down the rabbit hole I was going to head. On the surface, it seems like bicycling would provide the most benefit to my well-being. But… maybe not my pocketbook.

Having thought long and hard about the craptastic mountain bike I bought 25 years ago that I had considered jumping on to take up biking, I realized that I would likely have to spend at least $200 to get it up to speed, so to speak, which is probably more than what I paid for it back in the 90s. Taking it in for inspection and repairs and maintenance and tire replacement and so on and so forth so I don’t cry huge rivers on the road when it broke down seems prudent, but it also seemed foolhardy to spend so much on what was a big-box purchase that probably doesn’t deserve so much TLC. It was never a very comfortable bike, nor very fast (with it’s mega-knobble stock tires). I was spoiled as a kid — I got a hand-me-down racing bike that my aunt didn’t want to collect dust and I got used to effortlessly flying around at close to 20 MPH on the flats, faster downhill. That was until a neighbor backed into it and gave me all kinds of micro fissures in the frame. The person inspected applying a hacksaw to it so that someone else didn’t steal it out of the trash and kill themselves when the frame failed. And, he insisted, it would fail sooner or later.

So, with tears in my eyes, I hacked in and dreamt of speed I could no longer afford. And then, I got sucked into the mountain bike thing even though I wasn’t off-roading (like almost everyone else did in the 90s) and got a cheap-assed bike that worked, but was not, repeat not, comfortable or fast. In fact, it is a big of a slog to use at times (at least when I was still riding occasionally).

So, while assessing my goals yesterday, considering the actual costs, I figured I might be worth a new bike. And a decent one, without going crazy and pretending I was a hardcore cyclist. I found several that might meet my needs. But, if you recall, I have a bad case of OCD when it comes to comparison shopping and I went a bit crazy and still don’t know what (for sure) I want to get. Assuming I can find it in my finances to do so (I should be able to, but one should never assume on something like this).

I narrowed it down to Trek cycles for a brand, I think. It is a name I am familiar with in the shadows of my memory and the gear seems like decent (although not fantastic) stuff, again — from possibly faulty memory. But I’m stuck on cost over features over intended use. So I’m fussing about that now.

Intended use: urban biking, possibly commuting, likely paved surfaces, fitness and exercise. Probably won’t off-road at all, or stick to gravel (not muddy, rocky, hilly mountain biking). Speed slightly more favored over pure casual recreation.

Option 1: Trek FX 1 Disc, standard or stagger frame. Stagger frames are like “girls” bikes from when we were kids, they don’t have the cross brace so high on the frame, making them are easier to mount. I haven’t decided if that’s a feature I care about, but I’m getting less limber, so I might think it is important. The price is the same for either orientation ($599.99) and both have disc brakes as opposed to rim brakes. I’ve only ever known rim brakes, but it seems like a much safer option under wet or rainy conditions to go with the disc brakes. I recall many of a time running through a sprinkler or leftover puddle and losing my braking power. Orientation on this bike is trending more towards road position, which means that you lean forward more, ergonomically, which isn’t as comfortable as a frame designed to keep you more upright for the casual cyclist. Slightly faster than my other options. I lean towards this one, although it is the most expensive option. Lightest of the bunch at an average of about 24lbs.

Option 2: Trek Verve Disc, standard frame. They make a stagger frame, but the nearest dealer doesn’t have it in stock, according to their online inventory. I assume it is the same price and can be ordered ($549.99). Another disc brake bike and, while I could possibly save $100 on either by waiting for a special ordered rim brake to arrive, I already have my arguments outlined above for why a disc is favored, so I probably will keep with the on-hand disc brake variant. Frame orientation is more recreational and upright so you can see the world as you ride through it, which is nice, but I don’t know that it fits my exercise goals to be so upright while sacrificing performance. Still, posture is important, so… I’d consider this as an option. And it would work more favorably with having the kiddos along, but I’m not sure they want to bike more than casually up and down the driveway. I can’t get them to even try without training wheels, so I’m not certain they are really all that into learning. I like the idea, but part of me grimaces when I think I might have slower speeds (especially if I dare to commute at some point), although the fatter tires might be welcome to this aging guy who’s stability might not be what it used to be. Heavier than the FX1 by about 5lbs., which may or may not matter. I think one of the things that slows me down on my old bike is that it is a steel monster and probably weighs upwards of 35lbs.

Option 3: Trek 820, standard frame. Stagger is not an option, because this is a mountain bike and, as a result it being a mountain bike with a steel instead of aluminum frame, also on the heaviest side (33lbs). It meets my price target best ($429.99), but… I don’t exactly want to go off-roading, like it is designed to do. An old guy like me might just about give himself a heart attack until I get in better shape, so off-roading seems like something better to leave to those who are more fit. I think I’d run into the same issues that I encountered with my current bike — lack of enjoyment being the primary thing — and my expected usage would plummet. I want to be able to get in 2-4 days a week on the bike and, when cycling starts to feel like a slog as it does with heavier bikes, I don’t know this wouldn’t be a complete waste of money in the end. But, needing a new bike, I don’t want to go big-box this time and it might be a viable option if I can’t bring myself to up my game in terms of spending. Still — that weight and other diminished design decisions make me hesitate all the same. I need something that I’ll look forward to riding. That old racing bike was a joy to ride (I could lift it with two fingers and a bicep, the current bike involves more grunt).

Regardless of what I choose, I suspect this will become a writing, music and cycling blog now… Just a feeling I have.

5 thoughts on “Cycling through options

  1. Trek used to be a great company but they got bought out and unsurprisingly not as great nowadays… actually at least ten years now. You really don’t want to skimp on the right bike, for sure. Also… definitely get a big gel seat with the hole so things don’t get numb and tingly. If you need someone to bounce ideas off… remember that I worked in the outdoor gear industry for many years. 😉 also a biker. 💕 (and kayaker!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Cycling through (part II) | Sceadugenga

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